School merger plans worry teachers, parents

School merger plans worry teachers, parents

Affected groups to petition Education Ministry over plan green-lit for next year

Children join a rally at the Royal Plaza in Bangkok on June 16, 2011 against the Education Ministry’s policy to merge or close about 2,500 small primary schools nationwide under the education quality improvement plan. (Bangkok Post file photo)
Children join a rally at the Royal Plaza in Bangkok on June 16, 2011 against the Education Ministry’s policy to merge or close about 2,500 small primary schools nationwide under the education quality improvement plan. (Bangkok Post file photo)

The Education Ministry on Tuesday admitted that a proposed plan to merge 5,447 small-sized schools into larger ones over the next three years is worrying the many teachers and parents who will be affected.

The mergers are part of the past government’s education reform package, have already won approval from the cabinet and are due to go ahead next year.

The Federation of Teachers Associations of Thailand plans to hold a gathering of teachers from across the country to submit its petition to various House committees as well as the Education Ministry tomorrow, said Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan.

The group is calling on the House committees and the ministry to seek to suspend the cabinet’s resolution to proceed until there is a clear plan to mitigate the negative impact on the schools, teachers and students, said the minister.

“I’m more concerned about the low ratio of teachers to students, which is a key factor in ensuring the quality of education,” he said.

He said he is now focusing on first speeding up the development of more than 3,000 small schools that aren’t suitable for being merged to ensure their teaching quality.

Of the 5,447 schools to be merged, 1,398 are to be merged into larger schools next year, another 2,963 in 2021 and the rest in 2022, said the minister, citing the latest version of the plan reported to him recently by permanent secretary for education Prasoet Bunruang.

The plan has prompted worries among teachers and school administrators at small schools about how the schools will be run after the merger, he said.

As for concerns raised by teachers and parents of the affected students over the possibility of them having to travel further to a new location after the merger, the minister said he thought it wouldn’t be a huge burden.


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